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13 October 2015
News

Bosnian Serb War Criminal Secretly Freed in 2014

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BIH The Hague
The Hague Tribunal said it secretly granted early release last year to former Bosnian Serb officer Momir Nikolic, who was jailed for Srebrenica crimes, after he became a crucial prosecution witness.
Theodor Meron, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said on Monday that Nikolic was released from prison on July 1, 2014, although the decision was kept secret until now.

Nikolic, a former security officer in the Bosnian Serb Army’s Bratunac Brigade, had not served two-thirds of his 20-year sentence, as is customary in cases in which Hague Tribunal convicts are granted early release.

But Meron said that one of the reasons was that Nikolic had cooperated with the Hague prosecution.

He became a key prosecution witness in the trials of several genocide defendants including Bosnian Serb political and military leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

He gave crucial prosecution testimony in the trial of Mladic, saying that he met the defendant near Srebrenica on July 13, 1995 and asked him what would happen to the Bosniak captives. Mladic made a hand gesture indicating they would be killed, Nikolic told the court.

Meron also said that the government in Finland, where Nikolic was serving his sentence, issued a positive report about his conduct in prison.

“According to the report. Nikolic behaved very well in prison all the time. He never broke the rules made to maintain order and always conducts himself with dignity and politeness to such an extent that he is considered by the supervisory staff as the most reliable prisoner in the prison,” he said.

Nikolic admitted guilt in May 2003 to taking part in the operation to systematically execute more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica and deport women and children from the UN-protected ‘safe area’ in July 1995.

He was originally sentenced to 27 years in prison for his crimes, but the Hague Tribunal appeals chamber reduced his sentence by seven years.

He had been in custody since 2002 when he was arrested in Bosnia, and in 2007 he was sent to Finland to serve his time in prison.

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